Finding Ghostwriters

Get tips on locating ghost writers to help you write a book.

Dear Janet,

How do we go about finding a ghostwriter? I see people writing successful books about RV travel, who haven’t had one-tenth the experiences we have had. We have an almost unbelievable story to tell as we covered all the states, and drove down to the tip of South America, plus shipping our RV to Europe and visiting there on three different occasions.

We then decided to start a family and an RV business. Our daughter and our business are both sixteen years old now. I know of no one who has had the experiences in selecting and buying, using, or selling an RV that we offer.

–Tommy Howard 

Dear Tommy,

It sounds like you have plenty of firsthand experience to write about! 

There are several ways to find a ghost writer. One would be to look in the classified advertising sections of writers magazines such as Writers’ Digest. Another would be to post help wanted ads through web sites that specialize in putting independent contractors together with businesses and individuals who want to hire them., Elance.Com, and are several to try. 

Evaluate writers’ credentials and writing samples carefully before choosing someone to work with. Ideally, you would want to work with someone who has had nonfiction books published by traditional publishers in the past and who shares a love for travel and RVs. The previously published work will be an indication that the writer has writing skill and persistence to actually complete a book project. Working with a previously published author may help reduce the publisher’s concerns about whether the manuscript will be delivered on time and be well-written. Someone who has written only a few short magazine articles or newspaper articles may not be good at putting together a whole book or may not realize the time it takes to complete a book.

An established writer also would be able to help you determine if what you have in mind could actually sell to a publisher. Many well-written books go unpublished because they don’t have a hook that makes the publisher think they will make money. 

You will also need to consider in advance what monetary arrangements you will agree to. Some ghostwriters will want to be paid a fee up front whether the book sells or not, some might work for a percentage of the book publisher’s advance.

Finally, consider how much time and effort you will put into the project, yourself. If you think you could organize and write most of the book by yourself (and with your background you may be able to do that), then you may just want to hire someone to rewrite or edit the material. 

One final suggestion: visit your public library and read some back issues of Writers’ Digest magazine and look through the information in the book, Writers’ Marketplace. Both will give you some background to help you understand how the publishing industry works.

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